Rackspace has deployed data center infrastructure management software by FieldView Solutions in most of its data centers in a major win for the Edison, New Jersey-based DCIM vendor. Rackspace has data centers across the U.S., as well as in London, Hong Kong, and Sydney.
Companies like Windcrest, Texas-based Rackspace, which provides a range of data center services, from colocation to Infrastructure-as-a-Service and everything in between, as well as pure-play colocation providers, are increasingly interested in commercial DCIM solutions and the competitive advantage they may bring.
There are two main advantages to data center management software for providers. One is better capacity planning, which helps defer unnecessary data center construction costs, and the other is the ability to give customers granular visibility into data center resources they consume.
Rackspace, so far, has deployed FieldView to use in its own data center management operations only. FieldView’s DCIM software provides power consumption and environmental monitoring and tracks how much space and power is available in any particular area of a data center. Should Rackspace choose to provide a customer DCIM portal as a service, the capability is there, Sev Onyshkevych, FieldView chief marketing officer, said.
Pure colo – where providing dashboards that show customers how much power they’re using or alert them of cooling irregularities in their environment makes most sense – is only part of Rackspace’s business and not really a big focus for the company. Rackspace is much more focused on providing hands-on infrastructure outsourcing services, which means it owns and manages most of the hardware in its data centers on its own and stands to benefit the most from a tool that helps it do that.
One big example of a FieldView customer with a pure space-power-cooling play is Digital Realty, Rhonda Ascierto, research manager at 451 Research, said. The San Francisco-based wholesale data center giant that also has a retail colocation business is using FieldView’s “white box” solution to provide monitoring dashboards to its customers under its own brand EnVision.
Here’s a list of select DCIM deployments by data center providers, courtesy of 451 Research (suppliers in bold):
- Cologix: Modius - Open Data
- Digital Realty: FieldView Solutions - FieldView
- CenturyLink: Schneider Electric - StruxureWare for Data Centers
- Fortrust: Baselayer - IO.OS
- Interactive Pty: Cormant - Cormant CS
- RagingWire Data Centers: CA Technologies - CA DCIM
- Virtus Data Centres: iTRACS (CommScope) - CPIM; TDB Fusion - Federos
DCIM-Enabled Capacity Planning Advantageous
Smart capacity planning alone can be a huge advantage for a service provider. Besides being able to build out just as much capacity as needed at any point in time, it makes for faster customer on-boarding, Ascierto explained. “It’s a big one for colos,” she said.
For a company like Rackspace it can be a sales tool. Since Rackspace provides a range of infrastructure services, and customers often need a mix of services, DCIM can help a sales rep quickly determine what kind of capacity is available where and offer a price estimate for a very complex set of services to a customer almost instantaneously. It is also possible that the estimate will provide not only the lowest cost to the customer but also take into account placement of capacity that’s most advantageous to the service provider.
Another big benefit lies in predictive analytics. If a service provider can track a customer’s usage trends over time, with a powerful enough analytics engine they can potentially help the customer plan their IT capacity better, and “that’s a pretty powerful service,” Ascierto said.
Growing DCIM Opportunity
DCIM is a growing market and DCIM for data center service providers is a segment that holds a lot of promise, because successful providers constantly grow their data center footprint. DCIM vendors, FiledView included, charge based on the amount of data center capacity monitored or managed, so a customer with a growing footprint is an ongoing revenue stream.
FieldVew charges per data source, and each piece of equipment tracked has several such sources. A UPS typically has about 20, a CRAC unit 15, and a rack power strip can have 10, Onyshkevych said. He did not say how big Rackspace’s deployment was exactly, saying it was “many tens of thousands” of data points.
Deploying DCIM is an involved process, however, and one thing vendors have found especially challenging is customers’ existing capacity planning systems and change management processes. Legacy capacity management systems are often siloed and custom, Ascierto explained. But vendors have to integrate with them because customers are rarely willing to “switch over to DCIM on day one,” she said.
How long and difficult the deployment process is varies greatly depending on the customer of course. Deploying FieldView across the Rackspace footprint was a matter of several months, according to Onyshkevych.
DCIM Hype Subsides
The DCIM market has matured and gotten over the initial hype cycle, Onyshkevych said. Companies are now buying the software for good reasons and not because it’s the latest and greatest thing everybody is talking about.
Because it provides the monitoring side of DCIM, FieldView is in a good position to capture revenue in the initial DCIM deployment phase. Before you deploy any other, more sophisticated DCIM functions – things like power capping, load shedding, or dynamic cooling control – you need a strong monitoring and asset management base, he explained.
But overall, customers appear to be more knowledgeable about DCIM today than they were even a year ago. “They understand DCIM is not a single product,” Onyshkevych said. “It’s a category.”